Friday, February 13, 2004

Duty, Honor, Country Privilege Character
Mr. Moore explores the murky circumstances surrounding President Bush's service in the National Guard in the late 60's and early 70's in a book that is soon to be published called 'Bush's War for Re-election.' This issue remains pertinent because it foreshadowed Mr. Bush's behavior as a politician and officeholder: the lack of engagement, the irresponsibility, and the casual and blatantly unfair exploitation of rank and privilege.

Mr. Bush favored the war in Vietnam, but he had the necessary clout to ensure that he wouldn't have to serve there. He entered the Texas Air National Guard at the height of the war in 1968 by leaping ahead of 500 other applicants who were on a waiting list.

Mr. Bush was eventually assigned to the 147th Fighter Group (later to become part of the 111th Fighter Interceptor Group), which Mr. Moore described in his book as a 'champagne' outfit. 'The ranks,' he said, 'were filled with the progeny of the wealthy and politically influential.'

So here's the thing: After strolling to the head of the line, and putting the Guard to the considerable expense of training him as a pilot, Lieutenant Bush didn't even bother to take his duties seriously. He breezed off to Alabama to work on a political campaign. He never showed up as required to take his annual flight physical in 1972, and because of that was suspended from flying.

This cavalier treatment of his duties as a Guardsman occurred as thousands of others were being killed and wounded in Vietnam -youngsters of great promise like Roy Dukes, who was 20 when he died. Having escaped the horror of the war himself, one might have expected Lieutenant Bush to at least take his duties in the National Guard seriously.

Now, more than three decades later, there are questions about the seriousness of Mr. Bush's stewardship as president. He has certainly been profligate with the people's money, pushing through his reckless tax cuts and running up a mountain range of deficits that extends as far as the eye can see.

Citing phantom weapons of mass destruction, he led the nation into a war of choice that has resulted so far in the tragic deaths of more than 500 American troops and thousands of innocent Iraqis, and the wounding of thousands upon thousands of others. Like Mr. Bush during Vietnam, privileged Americans have had the luxury of favoring the madness in Iraq without having to worry about fighting and dying there. If the sons and daughters of the wealthy and powerful were in danger of being sent to Iraq, the U.S. wouldn't be there.
Mr. Bush has been nothing if not consistent. He has always been about the privileged few. And that's an attitude that flies in the face of the basic precepts of an egalitarian society. It's an attitude that fosters, that celebrates, unfairness and injustice.

More than 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam, another war of choice that was marketed deceitfully to the American people.

Mr. Bush's experience in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam years is especially relevant today because it throws a brighter spotlight on who he really is. He has walked a charmed road, with others paying the price of his journey, every step of the way.[Nitpicker emphasis]
In his Op-Ed piece, Bob Hebert makes the point that has been overlooked in the mad scramble for documents and the media's attempt to 'save face' - his record is relevent not because of actions taken thirty years ago but because of what those actions reflect about the character of the man and his actions today as commander-in-chief and pResident.


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